Research Horizons is the University of Cambridge’s research magazine
Foreword from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research:
Our front cover shows the hand of a child filled with paintings by children at the University of Cambridge Primary School. Their artwork symbolises the spirit of the School to be open and alive to the possibilities inherent in every child – sentiments that run through the articles in this issue’s Spotlight on children.
We hear how our researchers are probing deeply into the role of parenting and education in early life, as well as how the Primary School – which is sponsored by the University to provide education for the local community in North West Cambridge – is putting the very best of research into the very best of teaching. This summer, it received a rating of ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.
We also hear about studies aimed at understanding the vulnerabilities of the developing brain, including why some teenagers are especially at risk of developing mental health disorders. The work highlights the importance of early identification and treatment.
It is abundantly clear how important it is that we support children to grow into healthy, happy and inquiring adults, and yet we live in a world where it is estimated that up to one billion young people worldwide are victims of violence each year. One question our researchers are asking is how such adverse experiences shape a person’s lifelong development.
Our research is also having unexpected effects – such as a book of ‘lost words’ that encourages children to love and protect the natural world and which, thanks to crowdfunding campaigns, is appearing in primary schools across the UK.
Elsewhere in the issue, we learn about a sustainable food source based on maggots, the cryptographic skills needed to decipher manuscripts and the next generation of batteries that could power a green revolution. We search for other Earths, witness shamanic rituals and hide ‘unhackable’ encryption keys inside particles of light. We also meet a political scientist who shares how she has turned her childhood experiences in Rwanda into a desire to make a contribution to peace.
We hope you enjoy this edition of Research Horizons.
Professor Chris Abell
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research
Image credit: ARTBASH/University of Cambridge Primary School